Fun Stuff in the Garden

Yacon Start Newly Planted

Yacon Start

We’re developing a few of our own standby’s in the garden, like the Principe Borghese tomatoes for drying, Costoluto Genovese tomatoes for eating fresh and Straight Eight cucumbers for slicing, but we’re also trying some new things this year just for fun. One of them is Bolivian Sunroot, also called yacon. The plant reproduces through a rhizome, but stores energy in sweet, crunchy tubers with a unique taste. They were described to me as something like a yicama-strawberry flavor, which I find hard to imagine but am looking forward to trying. The plants can grow over 6′ tall, so I have this one near a trellis post in case it needs staking later.

Brightest Brilliant Rainbow Starts

Brightest Brilliant Rainbow Starts

Another new friend in the garden this year is quinoa. I’m growing ‘Brightest Brilliant Rainbow‘ quinoa which is supposed to be good not only for the variously-colored seed heads, but for summer greens when the plants are young as well. I don’t grow wheat or corn because of allergies and am looking forward to exploring some of the other grain options that are possible for a home gardener.

Lima beans starting up their trellis

Christmas in June

Lima beans are also new for us this year. I went with the ‘Christmas‘ Lima because I just couldn’t resist them in the catalog. The seeds are big and plump and have deep red striping on them. We grew a few Italian shelling beans last year that were delicious in soup and I think these will be gorgeous in a summer minestrone or on cooked their own. I was planning to pick half the plants and let the other half set seed for dry beans in the winter but as they are beginning to twine their way up the teepee, I’m already wondering how I’m going to do that. Might be time to plant another teepee of them specifically for drying. That would make it easier to deal with.

My family also really enjoys Black Bean Soup so I am trying several different varieties of Black beans this year to see which ones grow well for us. I have both bush and pole versions of a traditional variety grown by the Tarahumara Indians and some Black Turtle Beans to test.

Garlic growing in Straw Mulch

Garlic growing in Straw Mulch

We also have a small test patch of garlic this year, and, if it works well, we’ll have a lot more of this cooking essential planted this fall. There are a lot of meals around here that begin with garlic and olive oil. It would be fun to have our own varieties growing in the garden for when we want them. If I can decide what kinds to grow. The Winter Gardening catalog from Territorial Seed has literally dozens of different kinds of garlic. I may have to order a sampler and see which ones do well here.

I have a feeling the first stems of our test garlic are going to be ready in a day or two, so we’ll have some idea what’s going on down there under the straw mulch. The drying process for onions and garlic sounds really simple and if this hot weather keeps up, we should be prepping some of both this week or next.